I have had a sad week. Last Friday, I dropped my older son off at a birthday party. Not just any birthday party: a party that was essentially a mini-reunion of all his friends from our now-defunct progressive school. Big One was especially lucky in friends at our school; not every kid had a large group of kids his own age, and these kids all arrived at the school by age 5 or 6, so when the school closed when they were 9, they'd shared a lot of experiences. Going to school is about seeing friends for many kids, I think, and especially so at a school that nurtures the natural connections kids make with each other through classroom structure and curriculum. These kids were really tight.
I have had many moments in the nearly two years since the school closed, more than I care to admit, of blaming people for its closure. I blame administrators, board members, other teachers, even certain parents, each for playing a part in bringing the whole thing down. Some more than others, of course, but it's been such a big personal disaster for me that there's plenty of blame to go around.
I have had a creeping suspicion from time to time that all that blame pointed away from me must really mean that I blame myself in some fundamental way, but that I'm just not ready to look at that yet.
And then there I was at the party, standing around with the parents and kids I used to see every day, and it all came crashing in. I let in my feelings of shame and guilt, and rather than brush them away this time, I decided to ride them like a wave. It didn't feel good.
I wasn't always the best teacher I could have been. I sometimes blamed others for not taking care of all kinds of things, when it could just have easily been me. I got distracted, over and over, by gossip and politics. I sometimes forgot that my only real work, ever, was with the kids and the parents. I wallowed in anger and misery when I believed our precious school was being squandered by those who didn't really get it, rather than stepping up and trying to educate. Which was, after all, my job.
I stood there looking at these kids, so happy to see each other again, and I wanted to apologize, to them and to their parents, for all that I did and failed to do that contributed to the closing of the school, and I knew immediately that to attempt it wouldn't make any sense to them. Not only would they not have any idea what I was talking about, but it also would have been absurdly self-serving to take what was a joyful occasion for the kids and try to turn it into some kind of confession session for me.
And I wondered what I could do instead, and I thought of posting here. Some of the people who read this blog are former colleagues and parents at the school, and I think most of them won't understand why it's important to me to do this, here. Please know that although many of you have a great deal of faith in me, I am not blameless, and I need to say so, publicly.
I am hoping that this post may be a step toward putting the school and its miserable, ugly demise in the past, because I really need to find out where I'm going next.